By George Psyllides
PUTTING a criminal case together against an MP for eating illegal game was difficult, Attorney-general Costas Clerides told people who signed an online petition demanding his prosecution.
In his written response to the 1,260 people who signed the petition in December, Clerides said ruling DISY MP Evgenios Hamboullas’ action and public statements were reprehensible and unacceptable.
“But it should be understood that the Attorney-general has the authority to deal only with criminal offences and not bad behaviour,” Clerides’ said in his response to their letter.
The AG said the evidence collected by police was not enough to adequately substantiate a criminal offence.
Hamboullas caused an uproar in December after he uploaded a photo on social media of himself at a dinner table with a platter of songbirds whose hunting and consumption are banned.
He claimed he did it because he supported legalisation of hunting blackcaps, or ambelopoulia as they are known locally, albeit not with limesticks and nets, as is the current practice.
Clerides had said at the time that Hamboullas will be judged by the people and not a court.
The group that started the campaign said they considered the “Attorney-general’s response to the citizens as a manifestation of the principle of accountability by holders of public office as well as of the citizens’ will to further strengthen this principle.”
“We believe that as citizens we all ought to stay vigilant and point out violations of the law by holders of public office, in line with the principles of equality before the law, as well as populist behaviours which by no means do credit to those who demonstrate them. We believe that this how we can contribute to the improvement of public discourse. This is also how citizens can be educated to make responsible choices during elections.”